Yammer is an "enterprise social network" which was acquired by Microsoft in summer 2012 and now forms part of thier Office 365 offering. It's an internal social network for businesses - similar in audience and tone to LinkedIn, as a communications platform for professionals - but with the added security of being limited solely to members of staff.
A 'company social media network' would never take off, would it?
A few years ago I wouldn't have been convinced by the need for a company social media platform. On a personal level, the social media sphere was somewhere I interacted with friends and was ocaisionally (and hopefully not intrusively) marketed to by businesses. It definitely wasn't somewhere I would interact with senior colleagues and nor did it need to be - emails and the company intranet would suffice. Companies' awkward failed attemps to set up company Facebook groups were a thing of ridicule not lauded as a great example of internal comms.
What has changed then? Well, on a personal level I think social media has become more pervasive in our lives, and the line between social networking and professional activity has become less well defined. What used to be a flat-out ban on social media usage in the workplace has in some companies become more relaxed and in others even encouraged.
Ok, how can Yammer be used by businesses?
Yammer's website claims it is used by more than 200 companies worldwide, including Shell, Xerox, CapGemini and Westfield. Employees use it for:
- Posting what they’re working on into the social space, to see if others they don't know are working on it too, or working towards similar goals.
- Crowd sourcing answers to problems or issues by asking questions and posting polls
- Sharing insights they’ve come across elsewhere to act as inspiration.
- Share successes in the hope they make work well for others.
It does sound quite useful, and also fun, but then obviously I'm quite a fan of social networks. Stop me before I start to Yammer on...(sorry!).